Airbus leads the way with RFID tag deployment

In a recent indication of the strong growth of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) marking of flyable parts in the aerospace industry, Airbus has announced it will begin using RFID tags to label certain components in all its aircraft.

All seats and life vests will be marked with RFID tags on Airbus A320, A330 and A380 aircraft starting in 2013. This will increase the manufacturer’s use of RFID tags by about 160,000 a year. Airbus is already marking parts with RFID labels on its A350 WXB aircraft. With the addition of the other three aircraft families, Airbus will become the first aircraft manufacturer to employ RFID tagging throughout its entire fleet.
The move will result in a substantial increase in efficiency, Airbus officials said. For example, rather than checking hundreds of life jackets and seats individually and entering data by hand, under the new system, one person armed with an RFID reader will be able to check the parts within minutes — rather than hours. The tags contain at minimum the ATA Spec 2000 RFID Birth Record for the component: Details on when and where it was manufactured and its identifying information.

As the use of RFID tags becomes more widespread in the aerospace industry, the demand for RFID equipment will increase, and new and improved applications are likely to be developed. RFID tags have already evolved into high-memory and low-memory varieties. Both types of tags are designed to record a component’s ATA Spec 2000 RFID Birth Record. In addition to containing the birth record, RFID high memory tags can accommodate additional information, such as a part’s maintenance history. Low memory tags are better suited for parts that aren’t expected to have extensive maintenance histories, such as oxygen generators.

With RFID high memory tags, users are also able to add comments about a part, such as notes from a mechanic who worked on the component.

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